It seems women are less of a target for investment scams then men are with Australians reportedly losing more than $13 million in the first half of this year alone.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), men are almost twice as likely to be singled out by financial scammers than women, with those aged 45 to 64 most susceptible.
The ACCC is now warning people to keep an eye out for anyone promising you great returns with little to no risk as if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
While many Aussies reported losing millions to investment scams to the ACCC’s Scamwatch website, ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard says the number of people who have been duped is most likely much higher.
“[Investment scams are] the most profitable of all the current scams,” Rickard says. “It is likely that losses are much higher as many victims do not report scams or contact other authorities.”
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Rickard says these types of scams usually start with a phone call out of the blue with scammers these days employing sophisticated, convincing and persistent language.
“[This] is why we sadly see people lose large amounts of money to them,” she says. “They are also delivered through unsolicited emails, online forums and social media. Scammers use high pressure tactics to sell you a financial opportunity that is ‘not to be missed’, involves high and quick returns for low risks, and needs to be acted on quickly or you will miss out.”
Rickard warns that people should do their research before making any kind of investment.
“Never invest money with someone who has contacted you out of the blue, no matter who they say they are, how much money they promise you or the urgency with which they’re trying to make you act,” she says. “They seem too good to be true because they are.”
According to the ACCC common investment scams include:
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- Unsolicited phone calls and emails offering investment opportunities with high returns: This can involve multiple calls, with multiple people who speak in investment jargon and provide you with access to professional looking websites and documents. Your initial investment may seem to show promising results quickly but soon your money and the scammer disappear and you have lost everything.
- Unsolicited calls from scammers offering to roll your superannuation funds into a self-managed fund: If someone says doing this will help you reduce your tax and provide great investment opportunities, in reality they will just stealing your superannuation funds.
- Binary options trading that involve predicting the movements of commodity, asset or index prices over a short time:If you agree to this type of scam, the scammer will direct you to a website with a login, account details and a trading platform. It will appear the person has put your money into the account and the account will demonstrate a number of successful trades, duping you into investing greater sums. Then your money begins to disappear, along with scammer.
How to protect yourself:
- Hang up or hit delete on all cold calls and emails offering unsolicited advice on investing.
- Visit the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) MoneySmart website to check companies you shouldn’t deal with and ASIC’s professional registers to see if someone you are dealing with has an Australian Financial Services License. If they don’t, do NOT deal with that person or persons.
- Block the scammer on your social media accounts so they can’t contact your family and friends.
- Conduct thorough research before making any investment.
- Never commit to any investment at a seminar – always get independent financial advice
Have you fallen victim to this type of scam?